Springtime Bird Feeders

Birds love bird feeders in the spring — and for many, they spell survival

By FamilyTime


They’re back! When springtime arrives in temperate zones, migrating birds come with it. This is a happy time for everyone who enjoys watching our feathered friends at the backyard bird feeder, the birdbath, or diligently gathering material to build their nests.

This is also when a lot of us close down our winter bird feeders, reasoning that the birds can fend for themselves as the weather improves.

While this is true — after all, birds have been flying back and forth from north to south and south to north for centuries — many do very well with springtime bird feeding.

Migration is Hard Work!

These little creatures have flown many miles. Your backyard may be their destination or may only be a way station on their trip farther north. Either way, they welcome birdseed and suet when they arrive.

In a few short months, migrating birds must reach their destination, find a mate, build a nest, and raise their young — and then start the long trip south by the end of the summer.

They arrive at your birdfeeder hungry and tired. Spring is a fickle season and so there is no guarantee there will be as many insects as these birds need for robust health. It may snow in early spring, and certainly most regions can expect long days of rain.

All these factors mean arriving migratory birds can use some extra nourishment. Your birdfeeder is a welcome landing place.

Clean Feeders, Clean Seed

Bird feeders benefit from spring cleaning. Use a brush and warm, soapy water for wooden feeders and a mild bleach solution for plastic ones. Rinse them very well and then let them dry thoroughly in the spring sunshine or wipe them with a clean cloth.

Fill the feeders with clean, fresh birdseed. It’s possible the stash you have left from the winter is damp or moldy and so before you use it, check it carefully.

While a general mixture of seed does very well for most birds, songbirds, who are returning to your feeders now, especially like black oil sunflower seeds. Look for mixtures with an abundance of these.

Don’t forget about the humming birds and orioles, who sup on sweet syrups. Humming birds are attracted to the color red, so use a red feeder or set the syrup near red flowers.

Suet is an excellent source of energy during the spring when migratory birds tend to be stressed and so it’s a good idea to offer it for a month or two after they return. (If you decide to put out suet when the weather turns warmer than early spring, look into types designed for hot weather.)

Now is also the time to clean out birdhouses and birdbaths. Remember not to use bleach or any other harsh cleanser with wood structures. Stone and plastic do fine with mild solutions of bleach as long as they are well rinsed.

Home Sweet Home

Many of the birds who find a nutritious welcome in your backyard will become regular guests, returning each year. This is true of those who are only passing through on their journey north as well as those who live in your microclimate all summer long.

Those birds raise their young near your feeder and these babies will grow up to think of your yard and its environs as home, too. And so, as the years go by, your feeders will be popular and well populated destinations for all sorts of colorful and full-throated birds.